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A Place With All The Dark Academia Vibes
if you are looking for a place with all the academia aesthetic feels then may I suggest Stowe House and Gardens. Firstly not only is it a private school, a must for the academia aesthetic but it’s all pillars, stonework, and follies adding a somewhat arty and romantic feel. It honestly is a photographer’s dream.
I only spent one day there and could have spent three so a trip back is a must. It wasn’t a place I had heard about or seen anywhere it doesn’t seem to have made it to Insta fame yet, which seems kind of strange. It is almost as if the gardens of this house were designed to be a film stage or a photographer’s backdrop.
Richard Branson is probably the most famous person to come out of Stowe school and he is the current President of the Old Stoic Society. Other famous students include Henry Cavill, David Niven, and Christoper Robin Milnes, yes the son of A.A.Milne.
However, no filmmakers or set designers were involved in the garden design just a Viscount with a flair for the dramatic. Whatever, I’m thankful he created this Georgian legacy for us all to enjoy, and yes the property has been used in many films and Tv series such as The Crown, Bridgerton, The World is Not Enough, Indian Jones, and Stardust to name but a few.
Viscount Cobham is the person responsible for commissioning the gardens in 1717 and was more to do with politics at the time than anything else.
Stowe is a mixture of one very huge house and an impressive garden crammed full of follies and the like. Stowe School has some of the property and the NT manages the rest. A walk around the gardens often has you walk past a schoolboy running around the gardens surly as some form of exercise or punishment.
History of Stowe
The original manor was purchased in 1589 by John Temple a sheep farmer and wool merchant. His son Sir Richard Temple later built the large and impressive house we see today.
The large house certainly was impressive so much so that Sir Richard soon became Baron Cobham and then Viscount Cobham.
From the 1720’s-1748, many garden designers worked at Stowe. Each had a unique and different style. Cobham was a bit of a trendsetter and most of the people who worked in the garden later become famous. The garden features pieces from James Gibbs, William Kent, and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown to name a few.
The house was never really loved this much again almost falling to bankruptcy hardly used and left for cattle and sheep grazing.
in 1912 the estate was eventually sold off to Harry Shaw who sold most of the contents and statues and sold it on to Stowe School in 1922. The school gifted the garden to the National Trust in 1989. And so this idyllic landscape filled with temples and grottos lived on to fight another day.
You can visit the house, I didn’t, but it’s very flamboyant and colorful. It’s certainly an impressive building situated in the center of the gardens. But for me, the gardens here are what make it special.
The gardens were really developed over a span of about 30 years. There are 250 acres with over 30 temples, monuments, and follies. If you set out to create a magical mythical place you couldn’t do a better job if you tried.
I didn’t see everything while I was there so I’ve only covered here the things I did see, next time I’ll take in the others.
This was one of the main reasons I came here I had a picture in mind that I wanted to get and the bridge looked so perfect for it.
The bridge was designed by James Gibbs in 1737. It’s similar to a bridge at Wilton House in Wiltshire but lower and wider so carriages could cross.
I could have taken so many pictures of this bridge it is absolutely stunning with a really ornate ceiling. I think what I love so much about it is how out of place it looks. It’s away from the house and is much smaller than it appears. It has a sort of cute and grand and grand feel about it. This combination is somewhat mesmerizing.
Most people take the photos as you approach it from the temple of friendship side I took my photos from the gothic temple side as I preferred the way it looked.
I thought it would be challenging to get a photo here and while we did wait a bit for people to cross we didn’t have any real problem.
The Temple Of Friendship, Lakeside Pavilions, and the Queen’s Temple were all temples we passed by not because they weren’t beautiful they were just that they were not destinations we wanted to visit that day.
The Temple of Ancient Virtue
This was one of the places I came here to visit. Along the south front of the garden in what is known as the Elysian Fields, this temple was among the additions that William Kent made to the garden.
Designed in 1734 and completed in 1737 it’s an imposing structure much bigger than I first expected. The temple honors four great Greek men: Socrates; Lycurgus; Homer and Epaminondas, states of them are inside.
We just couldn’t stop taking pictures here whichever way you look at it is stunning. The sun was right behind it when we were here which while causing problems also made for some dramatic lens flare.
The Gothic Temple
This was probably one of my most favourite buildings here it’s a scary movie waiting to happen. Personally, I’ve never seen a building quite like it it’s so unusual and is the only building in the garden built from ironstone.
It’s a James Gibbs building and dates from 1741, complete in 1748. It is a triangle with a pentagonal-shaped tower at each corner, one of which rises two floors higher than the main building. I mean it’s just full-on witchy vibes.
And that is what we came for to get a witchy shot which worked out perfectly. Also if you go past the temple a bit and look right there is a beautiful tree avenue where we took a great video.
Oh and the best thing about this temple is that you can stay here, yes that’s right it’s one of those National Trust properties you can stay in.
The Temple of Concord and Victory
This was not a place we expected to go. I said I wanted somewhere with columns and mum lead us here. It actually ended up bene our favourite place to shoot. It’s huge and quite out of the way so there weren’t that many people around.
It’s unknown who designed this building but it was built between 1747 and 1749. A temple raised on a high podium with steps and columns and is honestly a dream.
It was locked so we couldn’t get in but it didn’t matter because the steps, columned sides, and door created beautiful backdrops.
The autumnal foliage and the autumn light just made this place even more stunning. When I go back here this will be the first place I head to it was picture perfect.
This was a different type of shot for me and one I really loved. It was exhausting though and I think we went there with too many concerts and ideas in mind. I was also so disappointed that we didn’t see it all. Being me I also think I had no idea how big it was and how much there was to see and do. Stowe is definitely worth another visit and I will be back and can’t wait to see how this place changes through the seasons.
If you are thinking of going my advice would be to just go it’s such an amazing, interesting and unusual place with something for everyone. There is a lot of walking but it’s so worth it.